Moving on in the Burning Crusade: Zangarmarsh

By Paige Francis Posted Monday Jul 1, 2024

Filed under: Epilogue, Paige Writes 0 comments

Here’s the current map of my presence in World of Warcraft:

  • Selarashari has completed The Burning Crusade. I am currently working on crafting (blacksmithing) and checking for any rare drops I may want to get, like mounts or transmog gear. I have won the battle against trying to get 100% of everything gettable, mainly because class-specific gear makes that impossible for one character. Additionally, having the mutually exclusive factions of Scryer and Aldor means you either have to run two characters JUST FOR THAT, or get everything with one faction and then pay to switch and grind all the way up FROM UNFRIENDLY INSTEAD OF NEUTRAL with the other faction. I actually have an idea for getting this done, though…
  • Mystilatre is functionally finished with Warlords of Draenor as well, excepting the ending raid on Hellfire Citadel. I finally went to the final zone, Tanaan Jungle, to run through the last bits of the story and get to the raid, only to find out that Tanaan Jungle isn’t a normal zone. For the record, even the first time I played through Warlords of Draenor I stopped when I reached Tanaan Jungle because I couldn’t find any quests other than bonus missions and repeatable reputation quests. Well, it turns out that’s all there is in this zone. The bonus missions direct you to numerous regional fights around the Jungle which collectively illustrate how you are closing in on Hellfire Citadel. There are a handful of weekly random “Garrison Missions” that contribute to this part of the game as well. Everything else in the expansion is waiting around for rare spawns and drops, just as with Selarashari. I am reaching a point of getting bored with WoD. I have started laying some groundwork for starting Wrath of the Lich King, and I could make an argument for sending either Selarashari or the re-rolled Cinderlynn to Northrend as the Blood Elves and Forsaken both have compelling story reasons to engage in that expansion. Mystilatre not so much, BUT it did occur to me that I could send her back in time to The Burning Crusade to do an Alliance/Aldor run through that story.

Zangarmarsh is adjacent to Hellfire Peninsula and is the zone you are explicitly directed to visit next. Flying mounts were originally added in The Burning Crusade expansion, but you wouldn’t have earned access by this point in the story. The player would still be tied to road travel on a fast mount. There are actually two exits from Hellfire Peninsula: The main west-east road will carry you directly into one of the first questing centers in Zangarmarsh, Cenarion Refuge. This is a neutral questing center available to Horde and Alliance players, but notably does not have a Flight Master. You can bind your Hearthstone at the Inn here, though; which will facilitate a return-to-base after completing several quests. Once you gain access to flying mounts, of course, this is less of an issue; but it is interesting to experience the sparsity of flight paths in early WoW. These days just about every named location has its own Flight Master or one available effectively across the street. This lack of flight path will likely encourage most players to visit the nearest Horde and Alliance quest centers, which you should also have quests to visit. The other exit from Hellfire Peninsula goes directly to Terokkar Forest if you would rather go there, as I’ll cover later. Swamprat Post is operated by Trolls, as is the other Horde center Zabra’jin Village at the other end of the swamp. Swamprat Post can be reached in about 20 seconds on a ground mount, but the nearest Alliance center is Telredor, more than twice as far away (by road) and operated by Draenei. The other Alliance questing center Orebor Harborage is inhabited by Broken. Broken are “devolved” Draenei affected by constant exposure to the Fel Energies inflicted on Outland by Gul’dan and the Burning Legion. The Broken were initially approached with mistrust and hesitation by the returning Draenei, as the powerful Broken Ashtongue clan were known to serve Illidan Stormrage. However, the Broken of Shattrath City are allies of the Naaru and form the core of the Lower City refugees; one of the most important factions in the expansion. Prophet Velen’s Draenei have begun rapprochement efforts to merge the Broken under the banner of the Draenei as one people.

The majority of quests you will receive in this area are the typical “bring me 10 thingies” which leads to “bring me 5 whatzits” which leads to “bring me 20 fidgets” and ending about half the time with delivering some resultant produce to someone else. These quests are interchangeable with “kill 10 docile fuzzies” then “kill 10 aggressive fuzzies” then “kill 10 diseased fuzzies” then “kill the boss fuzzy Fuzzy McFuzzington.” HOWEVER, the story of Zangarmarsh also starts with a quest chain at Cenarion Refuge initiated by the leader of the Cenarion Expedition Ysiel Windsinger. It seems the water is disappearing from Zangarmarsh.

Suspicions confirmed.

Not only is this particular lake drained, the reason is obvious: the giant pumping station that doesn’t have much left to do. Ysiel subsequently has us use remote viewing through her pet bird to see pumps at other lakes throughout Zangarmarsh. You can see that little symbol on the map just underneath the words “The Dead Mire” shows up somewhere on the edge of every lake. Additionally, there is some super-pump and pipes complex right in the middle of Coilfang Reservoir. Obviously this has something to do with all the pumping. Ysiel sends us to shut down all the pumps, which are being manned and guarded by Naga, while she sends others to investigate the machine in Coilfang Reservoir. This, in addition to pointer quests made available at certain points, will take you all around the map and into contact with other questing centers. The other centers mostly will just do rinse and repeat collection and elimination quests. You will make contact with a representative of the Cenarion Expedition again in the southwest corner of the map, where you will eventually be connected to the Sporeling fungus people and their reputation quests in Sporregar. This is one of the easiest reputations to reach exalted with in 2024, as quests can get you quite far rapidly, and the reputation currency you need to finish everything off can be traded and purchased. Both Zabra’jin and Sporregar quests will have you confront the Naga that populate the regions around the pumps, so I guess we better talk about the Naga a bit.

This is a bit tricky, because there is a line between “the creation of everything” and “now there are Naga” that I don’t really want to cross, as far as looking back through time. And that’s because…well, that’s how far back you have to go to FULLY explain what a “Naga” is. So, we’re gonna fast-forward from creation to “The Kaldorei Empire.” The Kaldorei are the Night Elves, one of the original playable races in World of Warcraft. They are incredibly ancient, but not even the oldest PLAYABLE race in the game. At this point in Azeroth’s history, there was one giant continent that was comprised of all the different places you would know from a modern map of Azeroth, all mushed together. The Kaldorei, if you read some of the comments last week, were the original “druid race,” to some degree molded by the nature-spirit/demigod/OG-Druid Cenarius. But in time the elites of Kaldorei society, essentially their queen Azshara and her court, took to calling themselves the “Highborne” and practicing less-natural forms of magic: the Well of Eternity that was the center of Kaldorei culture was a font of Arcane energy drawn from the very soul-essence of Azeroth.

You remember me mentioning the first invasion of the Burning Legion? The one that happened 10,000 years ago? Yeah, that was now. The Highborne became incredibly addicted to arcane magic (backstory of the Blood Elves; this is the beginning.) Sargeras, creator and leader of the Burning Legion, whose goal was to destroy all life in the universe, had his sights set on little Azeroth because of some quirks of creation that have been tweaked and altered several times over the years and so I’m not going to mention them. I mean, it was just a MacGuffin for a long time, but now they’re actually making all this part of the story. It’s kind of like how I mentioned in the comments last week about the creations lore; this is something I’m not ready to talk about.  Nor do I really want to get into how DEATH works in the WoW universe…and I mean lore-wise, not as a game mechanic. Because it started out simple, with some artistic flourishes to make it more fantasy, and over the years those flourishes have been given their own lore, and that lore has been added to and retconned repeatedly. So what I tell in 2024 may change in the next expansion.

Sargeras promised Azshara he could up their magic game unfathomably if he could enter Azeroth with his Burning Legion and do his thing. Azshara and the Highborne began working for Sargeras, slowly feeding fel energy into the Well of Eternity to create a portal that Sargeras could enter through. Meanwhile, he COULD send other, lesser demons through and the increasing amounts of Fel Energy would corrupt Night Elves and other creatures as well. Azshara, Sargeras, and the Highborne were opposed by the Kaldorei Resistance led by quirky druid Malfurion Stormrage, his arcane mage brother Illidan, Priestess of Elune Tyrande Whisperwind, and a character not as many people are familiar with anymore, Jarod Shadowsong, the younger brother of Maiev Shadowsong. She was mentioned briefly last week, and will come up again. She becomes the thorn in Ilidan’s heel for like, thousands of years. This is the point at which Illidan comes up with a cunning plan to defeat the enemy by joining the enemy. The Well of Eternity ends up destroyed, which causes The Sundering: the super-continent violently splits apart and forms the Azeroth we see on maps today, including the “Maelstrom” in the middle of the ocean, which was created by the collapse of the Well of Eternity. Note that NOT ALL MAPS ever officially created line up with this, but the story is authoritative. Basically scrunch the existing map of Azeroth all together centered on the Maelstrom, and you have the ancient continent of Kalimdor (also called Azeroth itself in some sources.)

Azshara herself and thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of Highborne were near the Well of Eternity when it exploded, collapsed, and split the continent apart. Consequently they were all sucked down into the depths of the crashing seas rushing to fill the void left by the Sundering. I really can’t fancy up this next part, so I’ll just say it straight: the Old God (not talking about them right now but basically C’Thulu mythos) N’Zoth approached Queen Azshara as she approached death…in the form of a strange fish with glowing red eyes. N’Zoth whispered in her mind that he would save her and her people RIGHT NOW if she pledged them all to serve as his army forever. She did, and became the first Naga. Sea Serpent people.

Azshara’s Naga form has actually been depicted several different ways, but the main difference between herself and other Naga is that she is more of a Kraken-form, while almost all other Naga are purely serpentine but with an anthropomorphized face and a frill on the head placed almost like a headdress of some kind. Azshara and most Naga have four arms, as well. While Azshara serves as both a primary antagonist at times and frequently allies with other antagonists, she generally acts in accordance with N’Zoth’s wishes, which are presumably to take over the universe like all the other big-bads (there’s more to it, I’m just not talking about it right now.)

In events depicted in Warcraft III, as I previously mentioned, a group of Naga led by Lady Vashj allied with Illidan Stormrage, an alliance urged on by N’Zoth. They helped Illidan try to destroy the Frozen Throne, and then escape to Outland when that failed. Subsequently Vashj encountered Kael’thas Sunstrider and offered to help him with his Scourge problem, again following the urgings of N’Zoth. The Naga and Kael’thas would soon join Ilildan in Outland. Lady Vashj and the Naga began pumping all the water in Zangarmash into Serpent Lake, with the goal of controlling the major water supply of Outland, and through that action the people of Outland.

Deep under this central pump is a huge cavern that opens on four other cavern complexes. You have to dive through the central pipe of the reservoir to reach it. This used to be difficult because the water in the pipe was forcibly moving against you, meaning the swim took more time than you could safely hold your breath. Three of the cavern complexes here are dungeons: The Underbog, The Slave Pens, and the Steamvault. Two of these dungeons you will be directed to before you leave Cenarion Refuge, as follow-ups to the quests you did for Ysiel Windsinger. The Underbog is a realm populated by hostile elite versions of the various creatures that inhabit Zangarmarsh. The Slave Pens are where the Naga keep Broken and Sporeling slaves to run the pumps and other machinery, and the Steamvault is the home of the central pumping mechanism for the entire Zangarmarsh network. Having finished those three dungeons, the last cavern is the Serpentshrine Cavern raid, which is home to Lady Vashj and her various underlings and lieutenants. Unlike the Lair of Magtheridon raid, Serpentshrine Cavern is a massive complex that takes time just to run all the way to the end, let alone try to defeat every creature. It also had a “hidden” boss called “The Lurker” that requires the fishing skill (one of the universal professions that everyone can have) to summon. The final battle is against Lady Vashj herself, one of the three antagonists of the Expansion. Suitably, even if you are massively over-leveled, she’s a puzzle boss. At 75% health she will create an invulnerable shield and start summoning constant mobs to rush out of the water that surrounds her platform to both bolster her strength and attack you. ONCE PER MINUTE, a particular type of creature will appear but won’t move toward you or Vashj, although they will attack you remotely. On defeat, this mob drops a key used to disable one of the four shield generators creating Vashj’s shield. You can only hold one key at a time, so you have to run to wherever it appears (since it does move from where it spawns), kill and loot it, go disable one generator, then wait for the next one to appear. Lady Vashj CAN get powerful enough to hurt you during this stage of the fight, over time, even if you’re essentially a god like I am at this point. She won’t KILL you unless you wander off for a half hour, but still.

Of course, this is MUCH BETTER than the original or presumably-current The Burning Crusade Classic mechanics. Doing the raid as it was meant to be done, in this second phase you had to station people next to each generator. As each mob with the special drop was defeated, whoever looted the drop became rooted and could not move. You had to THROW the item to a person stationed by a generator, a mechanism fraught with peril as you can imagine.

Regardless, having defeated one of the major villains of The Burning Crusade, we turn in outstanding quests tied to the dungeons and the raid (there will be more, later) and move on to Terokkar Forest and Shattrath City. Or Nagrand. You could actually do either. You could even have a quest prompt by now to visit the Blade’s Edge Mountains. In turn, all three zones available to us will provide various prompts (eventually) to visit the final two zones, Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley. But traditionally I usually go to Terokkar now. In fact, I usually visit Terokkar as soon as I’m able to get started on the Shattrath City faction quests and get a hard start on any possible reputation, even if it’s not much. But it’s not necessary nor is it much of an advantage, if any.

See you next week!


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